What's In a Pitch? Examining 'The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp' (Book One)

What’s In a Pitch? is a new series that takes actual novel pitches and examines why they work successfully. This series is designed to help writers who need help composing the pitch paragraph of their query letter, or pitching an agent in person.

By the way, since I read mostly kids fiction, it will be mostly kids fiction here, too, but the framework of a successful pitch is the same no matter what category or genre you’re writing. Today’s pitch to dissect is (young adult) Rick Yancey’s The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp. 


Alfred Kropp is the last person you’d think could save the world. But when this oversized underachiever gets roped into a suspicious get-rich quick scheme, his life takes a turn for the extraordinary. Little does Alfred know he has been tricked into stealing Excalibur–the legendary sword of King Arthur–and the most powerful weapon ever wielded by man.

With an ancient order of knights in hot cars, thugs on motorcycles, and a mysterious international organization following his every lumbering step, Alfred undertakes a modern-day quest to unravel a thousand-year-old mystery and return the sword to its rightful place.

Why Does This Pitch Work?

Like the other pitches examined, in this one: Alfred, our hero, is immediately introduced. It doesn’t start out talking about the history of Excalibur, or Arthurian legend for that matter. It starts with Alfred. Not only that, but Alfred is easy to like because of how Yancey calls him an “oversized underachiever.” This clever play on words immediately tells us that he is a lovable oaf who has never really done a whole lot – but he will.

Then the big hook lands.  Excalibur, the magical sword of legend, is actually real – and Alfred has unleashed its power onto the world. Good hook. Hard to resist. It has magical and fantastical elements to it, but you can see from the rest of the pitch (“hot cars,” “motorcycles”) that this story is based in reality and the present time.

The stakes are clear: The most powerful weapon on Earth is in the wrong hands – and that means humanity itself is at stake. Alfred has unintentionally endangered the world and he is on an adventure to right his wrongs. Very nice. Buy the book!

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